Damien Kayat previews the 2022 edition of the PGA Tour’s Houston Open taking place at the Memorial Park Golf Course.
2022/2023 US PGA Tour
Memorial Park Golf Course, Houston, Texas
Russell Henley dramatically broke his five-year title drought at El Camaleon, tying the 72-hole scoring record with a scintillating 23-under-par.
Henley almost surrendered a six-shot lead on Sunday (obviously recalling the memories of his collapse at last year’s US Open). But he held off a charging Scottie Scheffler to pick up his fourth PGA Tour title.
Scottie Scheffler missed out on the opportunity to reclaim the World No.1 ranking from Rory McIlroy. His quest to usurp the Northern Irishman will be one of the more fascinating subplots of this week’s Houston Open, as the tour returns to American soil after a two-week international getaway.
This event dates all the way back to 1946, when Byron Nelson bested Ben Hogan in a legendary inaugural showdown. It has struggled to maintain that elite status as the years have progressed.
It became the pre-Masters tune-up event in 2007. It underwent a bit of a makeover in 2019, moving into the fall schedule due to the migration of the US PGA Championship.
And the fields since have really reflected that fall state of mind. The tour is almost in a state of temporary stasis ahead of next year’s schedule.
Memorial Park Golf Course
Memorial Park Golf Course is a parkland layout that was originally designed by John Bredemus. Tom Doak- working in collaboration with Brooks Koepka- completely reconfigured the layout in 2019.
They actually reduced the amount of bunkers from 54 to 20, opting instead for dramatic runoff areas alongside the greens. These pose a far greater risk to your average professional than a greenside bunker.
It’s hard to make too many assertions about the course after just two renewals. The par 70 measures over 7,400 yards. This includes three par 3’s that measure over 200 yards. I would probably tend to favour distance over accuracy as a rule this week.
It has actually developed into one of the toughest tests on the tour. The decision to eliminate the bunkers has put an added emphasis on scrambling abilities. So, look for bombers who have decent touch around the greens.
As I noted earlier, Scottie Scheffler will once again be looking to regain that coveted World No 1 spot. And he will have drawn a huge amount of confidence from a sensational Sunday 62 at El Camaleon.
The Texan has finished first or second in four of his last eight visits to his home state. Fellow Texan Sam Burns has not been in the greatest form since claiming the Charles Schwab in May.
Tony Finau has enjoyed a spectacular year and should benefit form his prodigious length this week. Former Masters champ Hideki Matsuyama is an expert scrambler who should also find this layout to his liking.
Also, look out for exciting dark horses such as Sahith Theegala and Davis Riley.
2021: Jason Kokrak (-10)
2020: Carlos Ortiz (-13)
2019: Lanto Griffin (-14)
2018: Ian Poulter (-19)
2017: Russell Henley (-20)
To Win Outright:
Scottie Scheffler 6/1 | Sam Burns 12/1 | Aaron Wise 18/1 | Hideki Matsuyama 20/1 | Tony Finau 22/1
Davies Riley- To Win 45/1 | To Place 19/2
It’s surely just a matter of time until 25-year-od Davis Riley picks up his breakthrough victory. He lost in a playoff at last year’s Valspar Championship. This year he was fifth at the Mexico Open, ninth at the Byron Nelson and fourth at Colonial (both of those last events being played in Texas). The Mississippi native played his college golf in Alabama, and he seems very comfortable in these southern states. He shots four sub-70 rounds last week and finished inside the top 30 on debut here last season.
Emiliano Grillo- To Win 45/1 | To Place 19/2
Grillo isn’t a name that immediately comes to mind when I think of this test. He is a more surgical operator who doesn’t rely on raw power. But I think his form is impossible to ignore in a relatively weak late-season field. He has four top-five finishes in his last eleven starts. That incudes runner-up finishes at the John Deere Classic and 3M Open. He finished 4th at the ZOZO Championship less than a month ago. I think he represents great value in the place market.
The Man to Beat- Sam Burns- To Win 12/1 | To Place 26/10
As I noted earlier, Sam Burns hasn’t been in the electrifying form that catapulted him into President’s Cup action of late. But you can’t deny his ache over the past 13-14 months. During that time, he has won three PGA Tour titles. And he has been one of the most consistent players in the short-lived history of Memorial Park Golf Course, finishing T7 in both renewals here. Curiously, he was also T7 in his last appearance at the CJ Cup. Looks primed for a title run this week and he should challenge Scheffler all the way (and at a far better price).